aesmael: (haircut)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

Last time I put it down was when Stephen Wraysford's thoughts turned to the pain of abandonment as something he had feared all his life. When I read that I felt I now understood why Faulks had chosen to write a James Bond novel.

Abandonment as the source of pain had been a major theme in The Girl at the Lion d'Or too, so if that is a recurring theme for Faulks the author it makes sense for him to pen something Bondly. The character James Bond is not only someone who is a loner, he is lonely. An orphan, essentially raised by the British government to work for them in his adult life, the most stable connections he has are friendly colleagues. Any closer connections he forms die or betray him. Loneliness and the pain of abandonment are easy enough themes to work into a Bond story.

Looking at the brief bit relevant on Wikipedia it seems this may well be what he did.

aesmael: (haircut)

Originally published at a denizen's entertainment. You can comment here or there.

This is something which has been going around. I'm not a published writer and I don't know if anyone who might be reading this is, but I think this is important and maybe posting about it will help in some way. So, here is a substantial quote from a post by Charles Stross:

Turning to a different aspect of communications technology, I'd like to pass on a note from Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) (who describe themselves as "a not for profit non-governmental organization that searches for better outcomes, including new solutions, to the management of knowledge resources, as is described in")

We are distributing a letter (in English and Spanish) to writers, journalists and authors who support the World Blind Union WIPO treaty proposal to improve access to books in formats accessible to people who are blind, visual impaired or have other disabilities.
The World Blind Union has been for years requesting a new international legal framework that will allow them to produce and share accessible formats of books and other written material.

The World Blind Union treaty proposal, formally endorsed by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay is supported by nearly all developing countries and by disabilities and consumer organizations but the position that developed countries, like the European governments and United States, will take next week is still unclear.

Why is it urgent: Next week the treaty proposal is going to be discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva. This is the website for the WIPO meeting.

A fact Sheet that explains the treaty proposal is available here (PDF).

They're looking for writers and asking them to sign the petition: interested parties should contact Judit Rius at judit.rius(at) My take on it is that this is an unequivocally good cause, and I'll be signing KEI's letter. One of the big problems with electronic media and DRM is that they tend to lock the visually handicapped out; for example, a common restriction on ebooks is to disable the "read aloud" feature offered by Kindle and other readers. Such behaviour is discriminatory and (in some jurisdictions) illegal, but it's going to be hard to prevent it spreading without something like this proposed treaty.

Quoting seemed the most effective way to communicate this information. I wanted not to misrepresent anything.

aesmael: (tricicat)
(especially without commentary)

Most people like to imagine themselves big novels, 800 page doorstops that include forty fascinating characters buzzing around each other, major crisis and triumphs, maybe even a world scale event like a war or a natural disaster in the background. All of this preferably described with panache and poetry by a Russian master like Tolstoy or a French wordsmith like Proust. But the truth is most of us live 243 page lives, if that. There are only a few major characters in our stories, maybe a mid-level crisis or two, certainly some triumph or tragedy sprinkled throughout, but none of it profound or interesting enough to demand more pages, more explication, more background. Thoreau famously said most people live lives of quiet desperation. He could just as easily have said most lives can be summed up effectively in 200 page novels written by adequate midlist authors.

Sometimes I just want to show people stuff.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Last night I was up late working on my next project, tSOW, and did not sleep until six hours after I had intended to. Exciting progress but it meant I slept much later than I intended to and missed many of the hours I hoped to have for a date with [ profile] pazi_ashfeather.

I felt lousy about that but we still had a few hours together before she needed to sleep and we even got to talk via Skype, although I had better sleep soon if I am to make our postponed date tomorrow. During our conversation I discovered I did not need my headset at all, which was very freeing.

Also did a bit of work reassembling an old desktop pc for one of my projects, which went well until I discovered the power cord for the monitor seems to be missing. Hopefully I can find that soon or borrow another to replace it.

Most happily, I finally got to begin reading the second Series of Unfortunate Events book to her, The Reptile Room. I greatly enjoy reading to people and it made me quite happy to do this. She has offered that we could read to each other on our date. I hope we keep this up with some frequency this time.

As is the habit these days, there was writing later, with a bit of a very happy interruption when I got to call [ profile] soltice on Skype too. We have not talked like that in far too long. The writing went unexpectedly well and I find myself in a position I have not been in before. Plus I get to talk to [ profile] coniferous_you about writing, which does not happen often enough.

After an initial panic, today became a good day.
aesmael: (tricicat)
Doing these weekly is easier for me, less timely for thee.

Of course it gets cut )
aesmael: (sudden sailor)
(5:45:48 AM) Ele: I think the truest answer is that poetry is about exploding form and exploring sound to arrive at a meaning that is the truest possible iteration of what is inside your head.
aesmael: (sudden sailor)
I wonder very much about continuing these. If I did not, then I would say nothing of most of what I read, and give it less thought than if I attempted to find words for each. If I did not, I would read more, and quicker. I cannot quite shake the feeling that posting these is a pointless mechanical activity, a task continued because it was once set.

These links do not form an entirely honest record. There are items I have read and not noted because I did not wish to give the tacit approval of a link and did not know how to express or form criticism of the content in question.

The reason the majority of these are from shared items is, of course, that I have resolved to first become current with those before reading material of my own subscription. Agnosticism / Atheism
  1. Bias and Vested Interest: Interpreting Facts Unreasonably [Well, yes. I strive to avoid this but on good days do not pretend I achieve it.]

Dispatches from the Culture Wars
  1. Even More Political Chutzpah [I suspect most people do not investigate such claims - I know I tend not to, and rely on information provided by those who do.]

Google Reader shared items
  1. Mysterious White Rock Fingers on Mars [via [ profile] gentle_gamer. Mars may not be my favourite planet (which is? none, really, the overexposure of Mars or any other location seen as a prospect for life grates on me) but areology is fascinating!]
  2. Because I can't help but make a LIAR out of myself [via [ profile] soltice. I agree with this post. That photo is far too pretty for me to quite believe. Really, flower-filled meadows? Wild grass is brown, not green, and never contains flowers. This sort of scene is about as fantastical to me as the elves and snow I read of in stories.]
  3. Inflation Theory Takes a Little Kick in the Pants [via [ profile] soltice. The people commenting (at least at first) do not seem have understood what they read - the main claim is that a previously thought clear test for inflation has been found to produced by other sources too, and thus detection of this gravitational radiation cannot easily be taken as confirmation of the theory.]
  4. Industry execs sound IPv6 alarm - is the sky really falling? [via [ profile] soltice. Mm. I tend to be wary of people saying we have plenty of time to deal with a foreseen problem. Often, it seems solving it takes longer than projected.]
  5. HP Mini-Note gets unboxed, causes extreme jealousy [via [ profile] soltice. Presumably this computer is a big deal.]
  6. Let's all pack up and move to Great Britain [via [ profile] soltice. Odd seeing posts from feeds I have subscribed to shared by other people, and not reading them more directly. this comment sort of seems on the nose to me:

    "Us Brits aren't precisely an areligious lot - most of us have some sort of faith, but it's so vague and noncommittal that it passes for atheism.

    You know the kind of thing - "I believe there's something comforting out there but I don't know what it is and whatever it is I'm not going to let it affect my life. It's just nice to believe sometimes."

    So, when Brits say they're afraid of "religion", what they're really afraid of is passionate religion. And seeing as Anglicanism is by definition almost never passionate, they're afraid of other religions being passionate. And in practice that means...Islam.

    When my countryfolk talk about the evils of religion, they're talking about mosques, the Quran and ramadan. But what they're thinking about is bombs.

    So you see we're not so elightened after all."

    Pam's House Blend
    1. NYT article on convention bloggers features Pam's House Blend

    1. Border Crossings
aesmael: (haircut)
In followup to this post it seems more than one author is requesting their stories be withdrawn from the site. In at least one case:

Sanders flounced off in a huff, stating that the story "never did make any sense" and that he only accepted it to "please those who admire your work"--what altruism!--"and also because (notorious bigot that I am) I was trying to get more work by non-Caucasian writers." If I were a writer currently submitting to Helix, I would kind of worry about that bit--all things considered, if a story really does suck, I'd rather have it rejected so I can fix it.

He then played psychic and claimed that I only asked for the story to be withdrawn "because, let's get real here, you feel the need to distance yourself from someone who is in disfavor with the kind of babbling PC waterheads whose good opinion is so important to you, and whom you seem to be trying to impress with this little grandstand play."

He closed with: "There was a suggestion I was going to make, but it is probably not physically practicable."

There is this too, although it seems the pages on the site itself have been taken down entirely now [Edit: Screencap available here].

This post suggests some interesting links between the behaviour of people called out on racism with stages of denial.

And I link to posts here and here because I like seeing people I respect (the others were previously unknown to me) not going along with this sort of thing.

And back to reading those latter three.

ETA: Ick, sexist too. Unsurprising by now.
aesmael: (nervous)
Thanks to [ profile] lost_angelwings for pointing me to this post by Willow|Seeking Avalon.

It concerns a rejection letter sent by William Sanders of Helix, which reads as follows:
No, I'm sorry but I can't use this.

There's much to like. I'm impressed by your knowledge of the Q'uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people - at the end we still don't really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can - and I was pleased to see that you didn't engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.

However, as I say, I can't use it. Because Helix is a speculative fiction magazine, and this isn't speculative fiction.

Oh, you've tacked on some near-future elements at the end, but the future stuff isn't in any way necessary to the story; it isn't even connected with it in any causal way. True, the narrator seems to be saying that it was this incident which caused him to take up the jihad, but he's being mendacious (like all his kind, he's incapable of honesty); he was headed in that direction from the start, and if it hadn't been the encounter with the stripper it would have been something else.

Now if it could be shown that something in this incident showed him HOW the West could be overthrown, then perhaps the story would qualify as SF. That might have been interesting. As it is, though, no connection is shown and in fact we are never told just how this conquest - a highly improbable event, to say the least - came about.

There are some other problems with the story, but there's no point in going into them, because they don't really matter from my viewpoint. It's not speculative fiction and I can't use it in my magazine.

And I don't think you're going to sell it to any other genre magazine, for that reason - though you'd have a hard time anyway; most of the SF magazines are very leery of publishing anything that might offend the sheet heads. I think you might have a better chance with some non-genre publication. But I could be wrong.


William Sanders
Senior Editor

I did have Helix bookmarked as something to read, Suddenly the idea of reading, supporting, or contributing to anything associated with William Sanders is much less palatable.

And unsurprisingly he responds to the posting of this text with vicious and ablist language:
Son, hasn't anybody ever told you that public posting of a private email message is contrary to the rules both of accepted internet practice and common courtesy?

I do appreciate your efforts to be fair - certainly far more so than most of the other people in this ward, ah, group - but the fact remains that you've done something both socially and professionally unacceptable in posting it at all. So if you had any idea of submitting anything else to Helix, forget it. I won't work with people who pull this kind of shit.

I suppose this is what I get for trying to be a nice guy, and give you a little encouragement rather than the standard thanks-but-no-thanks form rejection. Silly me.

(I notice, too, the presence in the lynch mob of another person I've tried to help, and to whom I thought I'd been particularly kind. No good deed, etc.)

Of course none of these people have read the story, and so they fail to grasp the context - that I was talking not about Muslims, or Arabs, or Oompa Loompas or any other religious or ethnic group, but about terrorists and violent extremists. (That being, after all, what your story was about.)

But I don't feel any need to defend myself, or Helix, to these people; indeed I doubt that there's anybody outside their little Mutual Masturbation Society who gives a damn what they think about anything at all.

They are cordially invited to have intercourse with their precious selves. I'm sure most of them could use the practice.

That was in response to this explanation of the situation from the person who originally posted the letter, which I do not think mitigates it any:
You don't expect to get a rejection like this in your email inbox, that's for sure. I mean, I don't know him at all so I'm surprised that he would be so blatant about it. (I see that he's been referred to as William "Sheethead" Sanders on lj before...)

On the other hand, he was writing about a nasty character in my story, so I gave his email the benefit of the doubt and took it to be more character- or extremist-specific. He was also giving my story a lot of attention when he didn't have to look at it due to Helix' closed submissions policy. I usually don't try to argue with the editors for fear of getting blackballed, and it's his fiction site. I also don't want to be a nail in the coffin in one of the few professional-rate free-read SF markets out there. Plus, I think people can hold whacked-out opinions in some areas and be reasonably intelligent in others, or at least I hope they can...

'Tis a shame. I had been given to believe that Helix generally contains quality fiction by accomplished writers.
aesmael: (friendly)
Watching The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Professor, when talking with the children on the possible truthfulness of Lucy's tale of Narnia, used the same 'Lunatic, liar or Lord' argument I am told C. S. Lewis used as an argument for Jesus as Christ.

Now I am wondering if this is from the novel or if it were added in to the film. It never seemed a convincing argument, since there seemed far too much unexamined space in the first two parts of the trilemma. I have not yet seen Lewis' own formulation, though (beyond this).
aesmael: (haircut)
"Not everyone's life is written by the same author."
aesmael: (tricicat)
It can be odd first seeing something subscribed to via a different source, but these days I hardly ever check my feeds. Regardless, this is from Jeff Vandermeer|Ecstatic Days via [ profile] infiniteviking:

Evil Monkey's Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals*

*probably not this one
aesmael: (writing things down)
Written by a writerly friend of mine, click here.


2008-03-30 00:58
aesmael: (just people)
Video thingy )


1) Heard this before, oh yes
2) Still not played the game, oh no
3) With what was read to tonight plus other, broader context
4) Why is it so beautiful?
5) Oh goodness, perfect moment, the metafictional inspiration, it burns
6) Inspired where?
7) Jayde-Stacey-Last Speaker?
8) Jayde?
aesmael: (writing things down)
The astonishing story of the incomparable Rex Libris, Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library, and his unending struggle against the forces of ignorance and darkness. With the aid of an ancient god who lives beneath the library branch, Rex travels to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in search of overdue books. He must confront incredible foes, such as powerful alien warlords who refuse to pay their late fees. Wearing his super thick bottle glasses, and armed with an arsenal of high technology weapons, he strikes fear into recalcitrant borrowers, and can take on virtually any foe from zombies to renegade public-domain literary characters with aplomb.

An interview with Terry Pratchett at The Guardian, which is interesting overall but the most novel part for me was reading about why he got out of journalism.

Finally, a video:

[ profile] aepalizage: I think these animators must be confused
[ profile] aepalizage: Humpback whales are incapable of hovering aloft, and while they do sing in some sense, it is not German metal music.
[ profile] aesmael: Really? You must get different whales.
[ profile] aepalizage: Ours only sing in Polish
[ profile] aepalizage: And it's more of a quiet orchestral accompaniment
[ profile] aepalizage: I love how hauntingly similar German sounds to a language
aesmael: (friendly)
    According to this post here, Joss Whedon has been writing a webcomic. You can read it here. So far it is just short and fluffy fun. It may or may not be finished now.
aesmael: (just people)
    Found here, source here. Likely everyone who this news matters to will have seen it elsewhere by now.
Text behind cut here )

    So. It turns out it was not a stroke Terry Pratchett had. Instead, he has been disagnosed with a form of Alzheimer's. I am not going to eulogise him, not yet, even knowing that with such a condition there may come no other clear point before death that such a thing might seem appropriate. As he says, he is not dead yet and I have done enough mourning the living.
    Although I am sad (have cried, am crying)... I do not know how to finish that sentence. I would like to feel that nothing has changed because nothing has, except an increase in my knowledge of the state of the world. A reminder. It is a reminder. I might have thought him immortal otherwise and humans being humans, doubt I am alone in that.
    To request cheerfulness, well. It is not a thing many could manage at such a moment. In the future... people can manage many things but I am not right now looking forward to the next time I read one of his books, yet of all times to be reminded of transience, of sadness, that is one of the best. I do not imagine reading one of his books without being filled with, not only laughter (not mere I might say, except laughter is not) but life and love and hope.
    His works are thoroughly humanist. They capture the smallness of our species, the bizarre and even awful things we do, just because that is what we do, or it is our job, or we mean well. And what it is that the universe simply is and has no thought or care, no malice or love for us or any other clump of metal, and the simply amazing way we make up things like love and justice and evil and don't even realise how odd it is to be human and maybe people do awful things to each other but they also do wonderful things and without us maybe there would be no one to appreciate what a- what a wondrous/beautiful/amazing universe it is in which we exist.

    Alzheimer's is one of the reasons people in my family favour euthanasia. Although I never knew her, I have heard more than once of my great grandmother who lost her mind to it a decade before her body died in a nursing home. It is a fate many seem to find especially frightening. We are our minds, after all, more than our bodies, even if we cannot exist without both. I will take the rest of this thought train elsewhere.

    It seems I have eulogised without meaning to. Well, as much as I like to think myself an independently inventive creature of thought, we all have influences. Terry Pratchett and Greg Egan perhaps played the greatest in shaping my thought. Certainly they are the only writers I can think of who I can read and say "Yes." I had been intending to say earlier that he (and, Egan added, they) understand how things are, but given the order of things, perhaps it is I who see what they say. It is not as if being the centre of one's own lightcone gives one priority.

    I am mad, too. If something happened to an actor (and of course by this I mean an officially famous actor, not all those millions of others. haha) it would be all over the news. Why then no mention of one who writes the words that touch many millions of people? We are social creatures and often hideously vain. It seems not right that someone who has created a connection between so many, who writes so affectionately of what we are, faults and virtues both, should not have such significant personal news remarked upon.
    Bah. At other times I write wishing there would be less celebrity. This time I am being annoyed that the creators of art are not seen to be as important as those who create it. They are prettier though. Better finish this post before things get any more out of hand.

    There is something else humans have invented: Hope. Perilous to rely on, sometimes the strength it gives can make it a self-fulfilling idea.


2007-10-27 02:31
aesmael: (just people)
    Reportedly J. K. Rowling thinks she kept Christian references in her story hidden and saved more explicit ones until the end, yet the only holiday anyone ever celebrated or attached strong importance to was Christmas. Always amused I was by Christians complaining her books were a weapon wielded against her faith when for me they contained an irritating implicit claim of Christianity as truth.

    Still have not read the last, mind.

    Link via SFSignal and contains spoilers. Tried to skip my eyes over those as much as possible.
aesmael: (friendly)
    If I ever use the expression 'don't have the boobs' (as in 'don't have the balls'), I got it from here.



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